It’s time for another fantasy boxing matchup! We’re doing this Monday through Friday for the time being, and there’s a page where you can follow along and look back on anything you missed. All votes are open for one week from the day they were posted, so if you missed anything within that last week you can still vote on those, too.
Today! A middleweight pairing between Canelo Alvarez and Bernard Hopkins. Modern enough that everyone should have seen plenty of both men, or maybe not, I don’t know, Bernard’s prime at middleweight was about 20 years ago, we’re all getting old.
Canelo Alvarez vs Bernard Hopkins
Canelo, at 29, is still right in his prime years out here in real life, but I’ll pull back the curtain a bit: Alvarez is very popular and I want people to maybe actually come read these things. So, I mean, like, I get it if some of you would like to be voting on Harry Greb vs Marcel Cerdan or something, but those old lads just don’t move the needle much.
So you get Canelo (career record of 53-1-2, 36 KO), and also out in real life, Alvarez appears to possibly be done with the middleweight division, as his focus has been on a super middleweight title fight against Billy Joe Saunders, and his last bout was up at light heavyweight with Sergey Kovalev. The proposed third bout with Gennadiy Golovkin might happen at 160, but it also might see Golovkin move up to, in theory, challenge Canelo for the WBO belt at 168, if Alvarez wins that from Saunders. Or it might happen at 168 because Canelo says so.
Alvarez started his career back in 2005 as a junior welterweight, but he was also all of 15 years old, an actual child in the world. He was at welterweight soon enough, and once he actually started breaking through outside of Mexico, he was a junior middleweight for his first world title win in 2011 over Matthew Hatton.
In 2017, Canelo made the full-fledged move to middleweight, and whatever you think of the decisions for his two fights with Gennadiy Golovkin, I doublt anyone will argue against the idea that Canelo carries middleweight well, which was a concern or doubt for some going into those fights.
In fact, though, he’s only had three fights at the middleweight limit, the two with Golovkin and last year’s win over Daniel Jacobs. He’s fought over 160 just as many times, but I don’t think many would say Canelo was better during his years at 154, though he was very good. He was still putting it all together back then. It’s probably as together as it’s getting now.
Hopkins, meanwhile, had a long and storied run at 160, but it should be said that his title reign wasn’t always as popular and incredibly respected as time and hindsight have made it. That goes for Hopkins in general, in all honesty. While we see him now as a legend who repeatedly defied Father Time until finally getting stopped late in that bout, for a long time a lot of people just saw B-Hop as a sound technician who wasn’t very enjoyable to watch, and a lot of his title challengers were written off as inferiors. Hopkins’ rival Roy Jones Jr went through similar criticism, and we saw the same later when the Klitschko brothers ruled what was perceived as an all-time weak heavyweight class.
But all that aside, Hopkins (career record of 55-8-2, 32 KO) definitely had a great run at 160, eventually unifying all four world titles after going 0-1-1 in his first two shots at a belt. Comparatively, Canelo’s middleweight track record is very light (2-0-1 against GGG and Jacobs), but that’s more the timing of what’s going on around him. He’s a big money fighter, which Hopkins was, too, but not on that same superstar level as Canelo. Bernard Hopkins was never carrying the sport as a top attraction, great as he was.
Style-wise, you might be in for a bit of a snoozer, as both Hopkins and Canelo are really methodical with their approaches. Hopkins had a way of feasting on the aggression of opponents, baiting them into making mistakes, and punishing them for it. But Alvarez is not naturally a risk-taker, either. If someone is truly just overmatched, sure, but that goes for all top level fighters. They’ll rip up guys who just aren’t near that level, as we’ve seen Canelo do with the likes of Rocky Fielding or Alfredo Angulo, as we saw Hopkins do with Antwun Echols or Andrew Council, with respect to those guys.
True, we saw Bernard do similar with Felix Trinidad, who was a hell of a fighter, but styles make fights. Canelo doesn’t fight like Trinidad, and going the other way, Bernard doesn’t fight like GGG or Daniel Jacobs, either.
Who takes it? Does anyone have a particular advantage? We talk plenty — even some of his “haters” — about how crafty and smart Canelo has become, but B-Hop wrote a good chunk of the modern book on craft and smarts. So you call it, who wins?
Who wins, Canelo or B-Hop?
This poll is closed